Acts of Labor: A New Year Dawns!

 The more you sense the rareness and value of your own life, the more you realize that how you use it, how you manifest it, is all your responsibility.  We face such a big task, so naturally we sit down for a while.

– Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi

The burden which is well borne becomes light.


 It is Twelfth Night, the Twelfth Day of Christmas; tomorrow Epiphany begins.  Epiphany is a season in the Christian calendar that’s about proclaiming Good News (“Go Tell It on the Mountain”).  And there is good news to tell:  the Holy Child (cosmically and symbolically) arrived once more, the days are lengthening with the sun’s return, and we have moved beyond 2012, into the time beyond the Mayan Calendar.

The Sun, Guatemala City - 2011

A new year dawns!  And yet….

 In more than a few spiritual direction sessions this past week, I sat with clients who were expressing fatigue and fear toward all that needs to happen, seemingly all at once.  Can you relate to this?  2013 feels positively pregnant with importance – personal resolutions, community requests, brittle economies, work demands, business unfinished and choices to make, all of it is so important and it can feel so stress-fully pressing.


When? Where? (Lauren explores Tikal, Guatemala 2011)


The metaphor that keeps appearing for me is a birthing room.  And while I have never been the one physically birthing that fragile little one, who seeks freedom and liberation, I have certainly attended women in labor.  And all of us have been midwives for our own ideas and projects that so desperately wanted us to birth them into being.


Baby Sylas, 2007

And, OH!  Oh, what a sacred and focused effort birthing is!







This is the thrill, the blessing and the challenge of bearing our True Nature in the world.  So often, that which we most love and want to bring forth is accompanied by the fatigue and fear of uncertainty.  Think of it right now: that part of yourself that you wrestle with – perhaps you are ready to bear it for the very first time, or maybe, you’ve done it countless times before but, ever-reliably, it successfully still sets you SMACK on “your edge.”  And so, thrashing and obedient, enticed and terrified, we allow the contractions to happen.


Somewhere, in the excitement, in the urgency, in the discomfort of it all, the one who is laboring realizes that, in order to withstand what’s being asked of her and her body, she must find a pause, a still place to breathe…even as it is happening all around her.


She Who Waits (altar give-away, 2006)


And in my conversations this week, my clients and I spoke of this.  How will we remember the simple, radical act of inserting ourselves into the perceived quickening of this time?  Making real our True Nature, giving birth to ideas, to healing, to projects, is important.  And to do it well, with the care, wisdom and support of others that we so rightly deserve, invites us to do what midwives have instructed through the ages:  Exhale.  Soften.  Notice.


And then, right there, in the messy-middle of it all, the burden becomes light.   Joyful, reverent blessings to you in these first days…Happy 2013!


Here Be Dragons!

Here be Dragons!
– Early European map makers’ warning

It never does to leave a live Dragon out of the equation if you live near him.
– The Hobbit, J.R.R.Tolkien

I always wanted to ride a dragon myself, so I decided to do this for a year in my imagination.
– Cornelia Funke

I love dragons.  Easy for me to say, having never physically met one, but I love the stories surrounding them.  Metaphorically, dragons offer warning and wonder.  In this Year of the Dragon, the warning signs are everywhere.  To be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed by it all: warnings of the Keystone pipeline, warnings of drought, lack of snow and tornadoes in January, warnings of Planned Parenthood being shut down by a short-sighted right-wing agenda, infact, warnings of short-sightedness, in general.  I feel utter disbelief and pending despair about our society’s inability to be uncomfortable for longer than 30 seconds to simply think through our options and to be somewhat planful about our collective future.

But I don’t want to get stuck in despair and I’d like my disbelief to grow into something more inspired, which is the wonder piece.  I mean, a giant, winged, fire-breathing, riddle-solving creature?  Aren’t you a little curious?

What if the dragon didn’t simply have to be slayed, but could indeed be tamed, transformed into an ally?  Then, like CorneliaFunke, we could ride a dragon!

The warnings surrounding us in this New Year are plentiful, and like any good dragon, they’re inviting us to sound the alarm and engage our wonder.  I wonder if we can create new jobs without injuring the earth.  I wonder if we can forge new relationships with our enemies and come to some new understandings about the things we mutally care about.  I wonder if we can begin – even in small and slow ways – to tolerate the uncomfortable, and blaze some paths to places we couldn’t possibly yet know.  Here be Dragons!  I want to meet them…who’s coming with?

Inciting Epiphanies

Hello, and welcome to Lauren’s Blog!

Yesterday was the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or Epiphany.  For Christians, Epiphany marks the day the Wise Men finally arrived, having followed a star, to behold theChristChild.   It is, in essence, a “making real” of the event.  After the rather homely beginning in a manger with shepherds and barn animals, and after the rest of us respond by staying home from work, singing “Silent Night,” and “Away in a Manger” lullabies, and celebrating with our loved ones, the Magi arrive and up the ante: “This baby is a big deal.  We need to protect him and there are repercussions for us all!”

It’s a good story on its own and symbolically, there’s a LOT here.  I am arriving in these first days of the New Year feeling so grateful for the ways Nature pointedly guides us through the final days of December – the DARKEST days of the year (Northern Hemisphere native, that I am) – and provides a transition plan so that we might receive the increasing length and brightness of the Sun (or Son) in the days to come.  I’m obviously not describing yuletide practices as instructed by mainstream media, but if you’re reading this, you’re likely not either.

In short, Epiphany seems to me a great season to go *live* with my blog.  This entry and the one before it (Dec. 31st) mark my own movement from 2011, through the Solstice, and into the beginning of a New Year.  I would be beyond pleased if even a morsel of something written here incites an epiphany for you, or someone, somewhere:

epiphany [ih-pif-uh-nee] 

1. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity;

2. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or
essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple,
homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

More importantly, as you live into these first days of 2012, may epiphanies happen!  Plain and simple.  May they happen within you, in the lives of those you care about, in the lives of those we do not know, in our communities and throughout the world.  A new day dawns….

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Acknowledgements: This blog has been loooong in coming.  I would be remiss if I didn’t offer gratitude to those who nudged and pushed me along in its creation: Dad-lee, T. Taylor, A. Brucker, M.M., CMK & the EOL community, C. Morris, “V.P.K.,” B. Arnall, Davemo, M. Abed, A. Lattanand, M. Himel, and the students at ChI.